Friday, March 19, 2010


Congressman Ken Calvert
44th Congressional District of California
Contact: Rebecca Rudman

WASHINGTON, D.C. March 19, 2010 – Today, Rep. Calvert’s (R-CA) bill, H.R. 2788, which would designate the memorial that is currently under construction at March Field Air Museum, in Riverside, California, as the Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial, unanimously passed the House by a vote of 410 to 0.
“Distinguished Flying Cross recipients have received this prestigious medal for their heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Armed Forces,” stated Rep. Calvert on the floor in support of the bill. “March Air Reserve Base is adjacent to the location of the memorial at the March Field Air Museum. When completed, visitors will be able to witness active operational air units providing support to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is an appropriate setting that honors the many aviators who have distinguished themselves by deeds performed in aerial flight.”
Rep. Calvert introduced H.R. 2788 on June 12, 2009. His full floor statement is included below.
Statement of Rep. Ken Calvert
Madame Speaker I rise in support of H.R. 2788, a bill to designate a national Distinguished Flying Cross Memorial in Riverside, California.
I am honored to represent the Inland Empire Chapter of the Distinguished Flying Cross Society which is the primary sponsor of the memorial. Last June I introduced H.R. 2788 which would designate a memorial, which is currently under construction at March Field Air Museum as the Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial. It honors all current and former members of the Armed Forces who have been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The bill has strong bipartisan support both from the committee and with 48 cosponsors. The legislation is supported by the Distinguished Flying Cross Society, Military Officers Association of America, the Air Force Association, Air Force Sergeants Association, The Association of Naval Aviation, The Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, and the China Burma Indian Veterans Association. I’d like to point out language in the bill that specifically states that the designation shall not be construed to require or permit federal funds to be expended for any purpose related to the national memorial. Funds have been and will continue to be raised through private means for these purposes.
Distinguished Flying Cross recipients have received the prestigious medal for their heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Armed Forces. There are many well known people that have played a vital role in the history of military aviation and have received the award. This renowned group includes: Captain Charles L. Lindbergh, former President George H. W. Bush, Brigadier General Jimmy Doolittle, General Curtis Lemay, Senator McCain, Jimmy Stewart and Admiral Jim Stockdale to name just a few.
The March Air Reserve Base, which hosts the C-17As of the 452nd Air Mobility Wing is adjacent to the location of the memorial at the March Field Air Museum. When completed, visitors will be able to witness active operational air units providing support to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is an appropriate setting that honors the many aviators who have distinguished themselves by deeds performed in aerial flight.
I’d like to thank those who have worked tirelessly to ensure this memorial is built and is properly designated in honor of the distinguished aviators that have served this great nation. In particular I’d like to recognize, Jim Champlin, with the loving support of his wife Trish, who recently passed away, who have been instrumental in this effort.
Again, I hope you will join me in supporting the designation of the National Distinguished Flying Cross Memorial at the March Field Air Museum and H.R. 2788.
Thank you and I yield back the balance of my time.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Steve Pisanos

Pilot, 90, recalls narrow escapes in WWII
Shot down, Pisanos joined French Resistance
Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 12:04 a.m.

John Gastaldo / Union-Tribune
Retired Air Force Col. Steve Pisanos was awarded the French Legion of Honor Medal by David Martinon, consul general of France, at a ceremony last week at the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.
Online: To see a photo gallery of Steve Pisanos’ medal ceremony Saturday, go to
RANCHO BERNARDO — What Steve Pisanos lived through as a downed flier in Nazi-occupied France during World War II sounds like a movie, but it was real.
Pisanos narrowly escaped death, first in the crash of his fighter plane in the French countryside, then at the hands of German soldiers pursuing him after the crash. Literally dodging machine gun bullets, Pisanos managed to lose the soldiers in some woods.
That was just the beginning of the pilot’s odyssey. Saved from capture by members of the French Resistance, Pisanos soon joined their ranks. For five months Pisanos participated in sabotage and other combat missions with his underground comrades. He was able to rejoin Allied lines after the liberation of Paris in August 1944.
Last September, by a decree of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Pisanos was named a Chevalier, or knight, of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest decoration. He formally received the medal from the French consul general of Los Angeles in a ceremony Saturday at the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.
In his letter to Pisanos announcing the award, French Ambassador to the United States Pierre Vimont called it “a sign of France’s true and unforgettable gratitude and appreciation for your personal, precious contribution to the United States’ decisive role in the liberation of our country during World War II.”
Pisanos, who lives in Rancho Bernardo, was born in Athens, Greece, in November 1920. He arrived in the United States in 1938 after jumping ship from a Greek freighter. He found a job, learned English and earned a pilot’s license in 1940.
The next year, he sought to become an American fighter pilot to battle Germany but was turned away because he wasn’t a U.S. citizen. He then joined the Royal Air Force under a program for allied volunteers. With the nickname “The Flying Greek,” he flew British and American fighter aircraft against coastal targets.
He hooked up with one of the American Eagles RAF volunteer squadrons, which were integrated into the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1942. He became a U.S. citizen in May 1943.
His first confirmed aircraft kill was in May 1942 in a P-47. On March 5, 1944, while on a bomber escort mission in a P-51B, he shot down four enemy aircraft, bringing his total to 10. But on that same day, his plane’s engine failed, and he was forced to crash-land south of Le Havre, France. During the crash, Pisanos jumped from the plane and dislocated his shoulder. French Resistance fighters helped him escape and even found care for his shoulder from a German doctor by forging identification papers.
The memories of that period remain vivid for Pisanos, animated and jovial at 90. He talks of being driven from a safe house in the countryside to one in Paris in a truck that was also ferrying machine guns for the Resistance.
The guns were hidden under burlap sacks and firewood. Pisanos was sitting on top of them. Suddenly, two German soldiers blocked the road, one of them aiming his Luger pistol at the truck. It turned out they just wanted to hitch a ride, a request the French driver couldn’t refuse.
The two Germans sat in the open back of the truck, on top of a pile of firewood hiding more machine guns. Pisanos’ fear of being caught began to ease as the truck passed through a number of armed checkpoints without having to stop, probably because of the soldiers in the back.
“That was our security,” Pisanos said with a grin.
The soldiers left the truck at the outskirts of Paris, and Pisanos and his partners continued on their way.
Then there was the time Pisanos and a downed British aviator, also being helped by the Resistance, had to flee a Gestapo raid about 2 a.m. in Paris. They climbed out a fifth-floor apartment bedroom window and onto a balcony, then leapfrogged their way over about five other balconies to escape.
“Thank God that the balconies in France are so close to each other,” Pisanos said.
After the war, Pisanos went on to a distinguished U.S. Air Force career, culminating in his retirement as a colonel in 1973. He has lived in Rancho Bernardo since 1978.
Pisanos’ days in France are recalled in his memoir, “The Flying Greek: An Immigrant Fighter Ace’s WWII Odyssey with the RAF, USAAF and French Resistance,” published in 2008. That same year Pisanos was inducted into the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s International Aerospace Hall of Fame.
He has contributed many artifacts from his career to the San Diego Air and Space Museum, museum President and CEO James Kidrick said. When Pisanos told Kidrick about receiving the Legion of Honor and asked if the museum could host the presentation, Kidrick didn’t hesitate.
“I love the guy,” Kidrick said. “Very few people get to experience such history firsthand. … He’s an international hero in the truest sense.”
Vincent Nicholas Rossi is a free-lance writer from Rancho Bernardo.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

P.O. Box 1142

An offhand comment from a park visitor unveiled the untold story of a secret Virginia facility where clever interrogation techniques and good old-fashioned eavesdropping helped secure victory in World War II. Now the Park Service is racing to unearth all the details before the last remaining witnesses vanish.

By Heidi Ridgley

It’s a steamy summer night in 1943 in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside the nation’s capital, and another Army bus with dark windows is rumbling down the George Washington Memorial Parkway, headed for a nearly forgotten fort dating back to the Spanish-American War. The frequent arrivals at Fort Hunt no longer raise an eyebrow among locals, who assume the newly constructed facilities, complete with barbed wire fences and guard towers, simply support a World War II officer’s training school. But there’s a lot more to the story.

More than 65 years later, the activities conducted at Fort Hunt are emerging as one of the best-kept secrets of the last century: The men and the few women assigned here took oaths of secrecy to their graves. When the government began bulldozing the 100 or so buildings in 1946, this quiet spot along the Potomac became a place for simple Sunday pleasures like picnics and softball.

Since 1933, the plot of land has been managed by the Park Service, but during World War II, the War Department took it over to house a top-secret military intelligence center, referred to then as P.O. Box 1142. The site included prisoner-of-war interrogation programs run by the Army and Navy known as MIS-Y (Military Intelligence Service-Y) and Op-16-Z (Operation-16-Z).

From July 1942 to November 1946, the U.S. military shepherded more than 4,000 prisoners of war (POWs) through Fort Hunt, housing, interrogating, and surreptitiously listening to the highest-ranking enemy officers, scientists, and submariners. Notable members of the Third Reich questioned here include rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, spymaster Reinhard Gehlen, and Heinz Schlicke, inventor of infrared detection.

The intelligence that American military personnel uncovered primarily focused on the Germans’ rocket and submarine technology, which was superior to the Allies’. It may have played a role in the decision to bomb Hiroshima and the subsequent victory for the Allies, helped rocket the United States to the top of the space race, defined Cold War strategies, and was a forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency. Amazingly, the site’s historical significance might have been lost forever had it not been for a serendipitous moment between a park ranger and a park visitor three years ago.

In late 2006, a ranger told a tour group about Fort Hunt’s history as part of George Washington’s farm, as a hospital and camp for World War I vets marching on Washington to demand their war pensions, and as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in the 1930s, and one of the visitors offered, “My neighbor used to work here during World War II.” The neighbor’s name was Fred Michel, and he had since moved to Louisville, Kentucky. When park personnel phoned him, he revealed, “Yes, I worked at P.O. Box 1142 during World War II, and I’d love to tell you everything about it,” recalls Vincent Santucci, chief ranger at George Washington Memorial Parkway, the park unit that oversees Fort Hunt. “We did some great stuff there,” Michel told park staff. “But I signed a secrecy agreement.”

P.O. Box 1142 documents were declassified in waves, starting in 1977 and continuing through the 1990s. “But no one had told the vets that,” says Santucci. “They lived in isolation, not even telling the closest people in their lives.” P.O. Box 1142 veteran Wayne Spivey, 89, a chief clerk who managed the database of information gathered during Nazi interrogations, says, “I didn’t tell anybody because I didn’t think anybody would believe me. When people asked me what I did during the war, I told them I was stationed at P.O. Box 1142,” he says. “One fellow thought I worked for the post office, and I just let it go.”

To assure veterans like Spivey and Michel that they could talk freely, Santucci and other Park Service personnel had to go to great lengths. As far as these veterans knew, their work at P.O. Box 1142 remained classified, their sworn oath to secrecy still a matter of national security. Then, about two years ago, Santucci appealed to the military intelligence community for help. The result: The chief of Army counterintelligence wrote letters to each veteran, encouraging them to share their stories with the Park Service, telling them, “We need to preserve the important information and the lessons learned from the work that you did,” says Santucci.

It wasn’t a moment too soon. In fact, with so few World War II vets still around, it’s actually about 10 years too late, says Santucci. “This information is going extinct like an endangered species,” he says. (Fred Michel died as this article was being written.) “The things these veterans told us need to be in the history books,” he adds. “We’ve now interviewed more than 50 veterans, and we’ve found out about multiple top-secret programs.” But those who worked in one program didn’t know about the other programs or even what others in their same program were working on. “It was very compartmentalized,” says Santucci. “That’s the way intelligence works.” Further confounding matters is how hard it is to track down living vets: Separated by their secrets, few stayed in touch.

But this much we know: P.O. Box 1142 housed two military intelligence programs in addition to MIS-Y and Op-16-Z. The MIS-X (Military Intelligence Service-X) program helped American personnel overseas to evade capture and communicated with those held captive. This was the stuff of James Bond—or Hogan’s Heroes. The duty of an American POW was to escape or cause enough chaos in the prisoner camp to keep the German soldiers preoccupied and off the frontlines. With the help of several manufacturing companies, personnel at 1142 sent care packages to American POWs containing items like cribbage boards and baseballs with radio receivers that could tune in to the BBC for coded messages. Decks of cards, pipes, and cigarette packs might contain hidden escape maps, saws, compasses, or money to help POWs escape.

Another key program was MIRS—the Military Intelligence Research Section—which studied documents to support tactical decisions but also aided efforts to extract information from POWs. This group armed American interrogators with details that made them appear to know far more than they actually did. For example, after Army researchers spotted a newspaper photo of German General Erwin Rommel surrounded by other generals at his daughter’s wedding, they used it to corner a general who was eventually captured and delivered to 1142. “An interrogator would say, ‘We already know most of the information we need,’” says Santucci. “‘And by the way, how was the wedding? We know you were standing next to general so and so, who was also captured and gave us plenty of information, so you might as well talk.’”

Personnel also interrogated prisoners and monitored them covertly. “They even bugged the trees,” says Santucci. “Although it’s hard to believe they called them bugs—they were two-feet long.” Often the agents eavesdropping had little or no understanding of the details they were recording or the significance of the information, which was then passed on to other agents. Take the V1 and V2 rockets, the weapons of mass destruction at the time. Set on a course toward England, the world’s first long-range missiles flew until their engines gave out and then simply fell wherever they were. At 1142, monitor Werner Moritz recalled overhearing two German naval officers talking in their room: “Don’t worry, once the work at Peenemunde prevails, Germany will be victorious.” It took the Allies about a month to determine Peenemunde’s location, where the rockets were being made; soon after the British bombed the site.

In another instance, George Mandel, now 85, was assigned to a POW working on purifying uranium, though at the time Mandel had no idea why. “In my mind, I was just writing reports,” he says. “Of course months later, when Hiroshima happened, it all made sense.”

At first, the prisoners were primarily U-boat captains and crew members who had surrendered in the Atlantic. But as the war’s end neared, prominent scientists surrendered or were recruited with the promise that if they talked, they could pursue their studies in the United States. “The Russians captured more German scientists than the Americans,” says Santucci. “But we captured the hall-of-famers to help in the Cold War.” One such person, believed to have passed through 1142, was Wernher von Braun, the rocket scientist who would eventually become a key part of NASA’s efforts to put a man on the moon.

General Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler’s top spy against the Russians, also surrendered to the Americans and ended up at Fort Hunt. “He probably should’ve gone to Nuremberg and been prosecuted for war crimes,” says Santucci. “Instead he became chief of Russian counterintelligence during the Cold War. That could be another reason why the military wanted to erase the things that happened at Fort Hunt years ago.” Mandel says Nazi party membership was overlooked in some cases because the U.S. military was already gathering intelligence on its next immediate worry: containing the Russians. “We didn’t like the idea that we were treating Nazis well,” says Mandel. “Many of us were Jewish—not necessarily religious—but we knew how the Germans had made life difficult for Jews in Germany. Still the feeling was that we should extract as much information as we could.”

In fact, many men stationed at P.O. Box 1142 were refugees from Germany—Jews who were young boys when their family fled from Hitler in the late 1930s. Some of them, like Henry Kolm, 84, lost relatives to the Nazis. These men were selected for their loyalty and their basic science skills but also for their proficiency in German and their cultural background, which could prove useful during interrogations. For example, Kolm recalls a conversation he had with one of his “customers” while playing chess. In an age when discussions of “enhanced interrogation techniques” have arisen regarding the Middle East conflict, POWs housed here were wooed with kindness and camaraderie. If they coughed up information voluntarily, they might get treated to a dinner in town or a shopping trip into Washington, D.C. In this case, Kolm’s colonel reminisced about his favorite remote mountain lake in Austria. Coincidentally, it was the same vacation spot Kolm’s father had taken the young Kolm, so he knew exactly what it looked like—down to the two small sleeping huts. The stunned colonel was convinced “ever afterwards that American intelligence had a dossier on every detail of his entire life,” says Kolm. “Very useful for my interrogation.”

Even as the war came to an end, the work continued. When Germany accepted defeat and the U-234 submarine surrendered at sea, the entire crew was transferred to 1142. Among the sub’s cargo: an unassembled jet fighter and a load of uranium oxide. “Not the stuff you could make a bomb out of,” says Kolm. But it indicated the Germans were on the right track. Interrogators found out the submarine’s destination had been Japan. “If that had gotten to Japan, we would’ve been facing kamikaze pilots flying rocket planes,” says Kolm.

Mandel recalls interrogating a prisoner about faster planes and proximity fuses that could blow things up simply by getting close to a target. “We didn’t have any of that,” he says. “German fighter planes suddenly became so much faster we couldn’t catch them. So I asked a German prisoner what was happening and he told me their planes didn’t use propellers anymore—they had jet engines.” It was this sort of technological ingenuity that almost allowed the Germans to win the war. But as we know, that didn’t happen. The Allies defeated Hitler thanks to innovative interrogation techniques at Fort Hunt. But the site’s crucial role in the war would have been lost forever had it not been for the persistence of park staff who, once they discovered the secret, doggedly pushed for more, realizing their race against time. “We’re losing the last generation of World War II vets,” says Santucci. “We need to find as many as we can and hang on to their stories. Thousands and thousands of books have been written on WWII, but what we’ve uncovered at Fort Hunt is changing what we knew about military intelligence history. It’s a shame it didn’t occur 10 years ago when more veterans were around. But we’ve got it now and we’re never going to let it go.”

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ben Stein on a visit to Camp Pendleton

Stein–Camp Pendleton
A dreary, cold day in Southern California. My pal Lisa Agustsson and I drove down the 405 Freeway to the 5, immense ten lane highways most of the way, to camp Pendleton, the major Marine Corps base on the West Coast. I had been invited to appear and meet and greet marines attached to a rocket artillery battalion about to deploy to Afghanistan.
We went through the guard gate, were met by a man in a huge truck, and escorted many miles inside the base to a large hangar like structure gaily hung with balloons and a cheery Santa Claus and many young men with mostly short hair, including some who were having a rock climbing competition as we pulled up.
The men were muscular and fit looking with no exceptions–lean, intense, alert. Most were in civilian clothes, even T shirts with rock group characters on them. There were pretty young wives, many with small children, many pregnant. I was greeted by several women from the huge Saddleback Church. They were the organizers of the event and they had invited my appearance. They could not have been more enthusiastic.
Glad hander that I am, I started immediately greeting as many men and women as wanted to greet me, which was pretty much all of them. I posed for pictures with them, asked them where they were from, told them of various connections I have or my wife has with their part of the world.
They were from small towns in Missouri, small towns in Wisconsin, small towns in Colorado, small towns in New Mexico, in Mississippi. There were also many from East L.A., happy to get away from the gangs, many from parts of New York City, even one young officer from Spring Valley, an extremely upscale part of Washington, DC. (“The Marine Corps attracts all kinds of people,” he said happily.)
They had the kinds of faces you used to see in Jimmy Stewart movies, all American faces, white, brown, black, Asian, but all smiling, all eager to do something for their country. They did not have the kind of conniving, weasel like faces I usually see around me in Beverly Hills. They looked like straight shooters, in a word. I guess they are, since every Marine is a rifleman.
I asked each of them if he would be deploying for Afghanistan soon. With only one or two exceptions, they all said they would, and usually said it as in, “I hope so, sir.” They said it like they meant it.
Several of them explained to me the rockets they would be firing. These were little devils that could go about fifty miles and hit a target without ten feet with a large explosive charge. They use satellites and drones and computers and I am glad it’s our side that has them and not the Taliban.
After about an hour, I went inside the hangar or whatever it was. Hundreds more Marines and their wives or girlfriends greeted me and told me how eager they were to be deployed–although the wives looked a bit less eager than the husbands. ( Later that night Lisa told me that a wife told her she could not sleep at night worrying about her husband.)
I gave a short little speech about how they were where the rubber meets the road in saving freedom and dignity. It may be agony for Mr Obama to decide what to do in Afghanistan, but it is these men and their families whose lives are on the line. I told them that we back at home sitting in chairs with our fat asses could not survive without them and that we thanked them, asked God’s blessing for them, prayed for them.
I talked to still more people, ate some turkey that a local church had prepared for this large group, and then, thoroughly chilled, went off into the night back to Los Angeles.
We had a driver so I slept most of the way back. But when I awakened near Long Beach, I saw immense waves of cars and their lights rushing towards me like a scene in a movie of a space ship rocketing towards a cluster of stars. There were thousands of cars, tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands. And in the rest of the nation, hundreds of millions more.
A whole nation. Three hundred million plus souls. All rushing around making a living, taking their kids to soccer games, buying groceries, getting and spending.
And in this little corner of Camp Pendleton were the men and women who make it all possible, about to go fight in a horrible place called Afghanistan. Not one of the men or women I spoke to tonight ever mentioned the stock market or real estate or the dollar or commodities or a stimulus package. Not one of them complained to me about anything. It was probably the longest time I have ever been in a crowd where not one person mentioned money. Maybe it’s because they know that what they do is beyond price. Back to sleep and then I awakened as we got close to home.
I passed many Christmas decorations as we got off the 405 and headed east on Santa Monica Boulevard. The thought came to my old head that I had just seen the best Christmas group I have ever seen: men and women who so love their fellow man that they are cheerfully and eagerly going off to risk their lives to save total strangers. These really are the peacemakers. These really are the blessed of the earth, the gifts from God. If we have any decency at all, these men and their families take our gratitude and our prayers with them with every step they take. Merry Christmas, Camp Pendleton, and all who serve to save.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Ed Freeman: Medal of Honor Recipient

You're a 19
year old kid.

You're critically wounded and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley.

November 11, 1965.

LZ X-ray , Vietnam .

Your infantry unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense,
from 100 or 200 yards away,
that your own Infantry Commander has ordered the MediVac helicopters to
stop coming in.

You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns and you know you're
not getting out.

Your family is 1/2 way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you'll
never see them again.

As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.

Then - over the machine gun noise - you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter.

You look up to see an unarmed Huey. But ... it doesn't seem real because
no Medi-Vac markings are on it.

Ed Freeman is coming for you.
He's not Medi-Vac so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into
the machine gun fire anyway.

Even after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come.

He's coming anyway.

And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load
2 or 3 of you on board.

Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses.

And, he kept coming back!! 13 more times!!

He took about 30 of you and your buddies out who would never have gotten

Medal of Honor Recipient,
Ed Freeman, died
last Wednesday at the age of 80, in Boise , Idaho .

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Wright Brothers 1909

Film clip from the Austrian archives about the Wright Brothers demonstrating their plane in Italy in 1909. What is even more fantastic is there was an on-board camera on the Wright plane and the last part of this film shows it. Wilbur Wright is at the controls on both of the flights. It's a GREAT video considering it is 100 years old and the quality/weight of the equipment of that day.

This film clip is fascinating and in very good condition for its age being as it shows the Wright Bros demonstrating the Flyer to a group of European officers and officia ls in 1909. Only runs for 4 minutes. The shots of the plane in flight are the best I have ever seen of this machine showing a degree of speed and smoothness I did not think would have been possible. Excellent starting sequence with the linen covered props and easy start but the outstanding sequence: being the take-off along the rail. You can't see the actual weight drop to pull it along the rail but in some shots you see the tower. The small piece of string on the forward elevon was put there by the Wrights to ascertain degree of side slip as you are aware the plane basically turned flat, and although they eventually put in a form of wing warping it was always a difficult plane to handle in turns, so they kept it as flat as possible because any side slip over a certain angle was unrecoverable. This was the two seat version as you can see and designed for a hopeful military use. It could only fly in very calm conditions.

The in-flight shots were something else again and possibly the earliest aerial movie shots ever taken. When you think he had to fly the plane and also hand crank the camera, I think it must have been fixed in position as the camera stays motionless and in any case cameras were heavy in those times and the plane had little spare capacity but I could be wrong. Note the take off ramp. Loved the ancient Italian Roman ruins in the final shots the approach speed was very slow in deed.

When you get to the site, just double click on the picture of the flying machine, it loads automatically. The other vintage videos are entertaining, too.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Dr. Bill Krissoff

Attached is a story about a truly wonderful man, Dr Bill Krissoff (as usual at least one error in the article – said he was a corpsman when he is a surgeon). This is the website for the story: and this is the website for the great video of the channel 10 news story; . I felt very humbled sitting next to him at dinner at the San Diego Air & Space Museum two weeks ago thanks to Bob Jackson. I spent most of the evening talking to him and because of the seating arrangement, I was really sorry that I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to his wife Christine who is another incredible person.